Monster of the Week: King Paimon(Hereditary) – 2018 | New 5th Edition Monster

You are Paimon, one of the eight kings of Hell.
We have looked to the Northwest and called you in.

It’s really hard to talk about this movie without major spoilers. That said, here goes.

I didn’t see Hereditary in theaters, rather I waited until it came out on home release and then I got it on a Red Box unit not far from my house for about 5 bucks. This was one of those movies that I’d heard a lot of good and bad things about – both from friends and from online personalities. It was clearly one of those divider movies, with half the people who saw it thinking it was a master piece and the other half thinking it was dull. Going in, I was curious how I’d rate it afterwards and on which side of this line I would come out. 

After watching it, my overall impression was honestly – Meh. 

It was a decent horror movie. I’m not one of those gorehounds or slasher-only fanboys, I like highbrow horror same as the next mook. But films like Hereditary are somewhat not my bag (I also am not a big fan of the VVitch or the Lighthouse – I can appreciate them, but they are not my go-to when I think of horror). For starters I think the disconnect for me with Hereditary was the cast. I have seen Toni Collette in a ton of movies and I’ve seen her acting in a ton of movies. She’s a good actress, but she’s one of those actresses I find it hard to step back and lose myself in while I am watching her. I’m always aware that – hey, that’s Toni Collette. Acting. I had the same problem the first time I watched The Shining, which was actually pretty recently. 

I knew the whole plot for The Shining going into it and of course I’m familiar with Jack Nicholson (Where’s Johnny – You can’t handle the truth!) and so when I sat down and watched the Shining from start to finish, it was tough believing that anyone interacting with Jack wouldn’t think his character isn’t completely insane from the get-go. I think I had the same issue with Toni Collette – I just assumed from the opening scene she was going to lose it. Add to that, the rest of the cast – Gabriel Byrne who I’m a fan of and ha d some issues with as well (more below) and the actor playing the son who again, I had a hard time believing they were related. I had the same problem with Garbriel and Toni’s relationship in Hereditary as I did with Shelley Duval and Jack’s relationship in the Shining – it just seemed highly implausible. They both seemed cold and completely out of tune with one another. I know that this is what the movie was going for, both movies, but its hard to suspend my disbelief about a movie if I see two people married with no chemistry in a marriage that’s falling apart when I don’t personally see a glimmer of what drew the characters together in the first place. Even real-life disasters you can see a shred of something that draws people together (you know like sex), but these two just seemed entirely opposite.  

But aside from all that, Heredity was a well-shot and well-plotted out movie. On subsequent viewings, I wouldn’t say I’ve grown to adore it or as some would say, been broken by it, I can appreciate it. The Shining on the other hand I can genuinely say I’ve grown to like it – a lot. Despite my poor first viewing of the Shining, I found myself for about a week after watching it, continually thinking about it and what it meant. That’s usually how I know I dug a movie, even if it was bad. For Hereditary, I honestly only found the lore of the main antagonist (spoiler) – the demon Paimon, really worth revisiting. The movie feels like the Sixth Sense (oddly enough also starring Collette), in that it want’s you to rewatch and experience it again. But unlike Sixth Sense, which I did immediately want to rewatch I felt no compulsion to rewatch Hereditary.

I think maybe my other issue with Hereditary apart from the characters, versus Sixth Sense is, despite its ‘secrets’, everything in Hereditary is on display the first time around. All its emotions and angst, all its dysfunction is there from the beginning. There’s no mystery. Yes of course the cult is there, and I’ve listened and read arguments about how they might be controlling everything from the beginning, but that to me means that what we see from the beginning of the film has even less weight to it. Why should I rewatch characters who have no agency in their doom? At least Romeo and Juliet had agency, even if the whole world plotted against them. Even Othello, manipulated by Iago, had choices to make. What choices, if we go by the ‘cult deciding everything’ or even Paimon himself, does any of these characters have? 

I hate to compare it to Sixth Sense again, but where Hereditary is in your face, so to speak, with its discomfort that afflicts its characters, with or without agency, Sixth Sense is muted and clearly demonstrates its characters have choices, even if they aren’t aware of their circumstance. Even though (spoiler) we know on second viewing of Sixth Sense Bruce Willis’ character is dead, we still want to see him realize this and we want to see him reach some conclusion, achieve some bit of peace. We want the same for his wife and for the boys’ character as well. What I’m getting at is, we have sympathetic characters. 

I don’t sympathize with anyone in Hereditary. 

Even a film like Lighthouse, which I have watched a few more times now and slowly it has grown on me, as has the VVitch, but not in the way the tension in The Thing ever will, left me with a sense of connection with the main characters. Willam Dafoe’s hateful sea dog and Patterson’s mute and potentially murderous character elicit some empathy. I just didn’t feel anything but coldness from the film while watching Hereditary. And I know that Collette can elicit that in me – I loved her in Little Miss Sunshine as the stoic mother who got stuff done for her family. 

But, what does all this have to do with Monsters and D&D? Well, again, spoilers, the movie centers around a cult trying to summon a demon named Paimon. The demon itself is based on a few interpretations of real-world lore (see the video at the end of this) and it was an interesting bit of world-building that I wish we had gotten a little more of in the film. But for our purposes, King Paimon, the camel riding demon is an excellent Lord of the Abyss to possess our player characters and destroy their souls with! This was definitely a fun one to make and research – enjoy!

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Like music? Me too -King Paimon feels like a little Marilyn Manson, Cryptorchild – don’t you agree?

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